ornament stands out. That which rises above the surface, and serves a more expressly aesthetic role makes itself available for critique. so ornamentation is extra work and extra material deployed for decoration. ? i have a tough time defining ornament, especially after reading david pye; as he observes, flattening a plaster wall is extra work purely for aesthetic purposes. but most folks don't think of flat things being ornamented, it's the place from which ornamentation begins. certainly upper class furnishings of the seventeenth century are heavily ornamented, with all manner of flora and fauna competing for real estate and vertical relief off the face of the structure. this is not a particularly popular style of ornamentation today, only Liberace flaunts this aesthetic. but it is what makes Liberace Liberace. the extra things. he enjoyed such a profusion of ornament; he is not the example of more typical or at least selective use, or seeming abandonment of ornament. instead, I'm thinking here of students Kylian Robinson and April Chan. Kylian seldom wears socks, seldom changes his clothes, seldom bathes, and in that way has designed himself as minimally observant of fashionable hygiene. his effort, or lack of, in those areas is his ornamentation. certainly the momentum in his peer group encourages the easy adaptation of neater standards of personal appearance. April Chan on the other hand, is typically clean, typically well-dressed, but there is so often that critical exception, observable from day to day, as she shifts from college professor to grunge, from young to old, girl to woman, with seemingly the same clothes and just a change of scarf or shoes. again we see minimal ornamentation as emphatic design. professor Kitao seemed to favor a more straightforward expression of the recent modern female aesthetic this semester with blue eye shadow and red lipstick, as well as skirts above the knee and bright colors. not outrageously unusual, except that there are few female faculty who so employ such obvious gender coded ornament. most favor the design of accommodation to muted tones and long clothes that hide the form; less above the surface. design is not necessarily that moment of exception from the norm; it can in fact be a careful coding of quiet participation, but it is those precise ornamentations, and extra efforts that reveal the role of ornament in personal styling, and define those eccentrics who bother. With regard to product function, ornament can emphasize correct use: a pattern drawing the user's eye to buttons, or sequence of commands. ornament can also key a person's acceptance of an object; help it fit their preconception of the object itself, or the person they will become, employing such an object. so ornament coerces to purchasing and coerces to intended use of the designer. recently I was looking at consumer electronics at Circuit city, particularly home stereos. Some models looked as though they had been modeled after spaceship instrument panels: rows of strobing blinking flashing multicolored lights, silver plastichrome styling, small screens with extraneous information. Clearly ornament, and likely targeted at first time stereo buyers who want to feel as though they are piloting their own martian media experience. Somehow electrical activity is a sign of prowess, though perhaps mostly at the lower end of the cost / quality spectrum. for discerning wealthy audiophiles, the rule is typically more streamlined presentation. bang and olufsen stereos may look like a spaceship, but like the outside, not the inside. their functions are hidden, barely raised, or as few buttons as possible. the materials are either wood, or metal - much less plastic, or at least plastic disguised as something else. certainly no plastic for plastic's sake. so is everything ornamentation? flat surfaces, smooth lines, bulbous cupids, faux wood paneling, strobing lights, finger-shaped handles. everything is effort. everything output, reflective of preconception and desire. to ornament is human.